Stenson finds groove by keeping it simple

By Doug FergusonJune 16, 2011, 8:31 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Henrik Stenson made a simple observation about his game with words he hasn’t used in nearly a year.

“I played some great golf,” he said Thursday.

Despite having to scramble for bogey on the 18th hole when his approach tumbled into the lake, Stenson rallied on the tougher back nine at Congressional for a 1-under 70 in the U.S. Open. It was the first time he has opened with a round under par in this major, and it could not have come at a better time.

Since he tied for third at St. Andrews in the British Open last summer, Stenson hasn’t been the same. He has missed the cut in 11 of his last 21 tournaments, including an 80 at the PGA Championship, an 83 at this year’s Masters, and three rounds of 79 during his most recent stretch of bad golf.

“I’ve gone through some bad times,” Stenson said. “But all the big names have done that.”

Stenson at least has kept his sense of humor. During the Match Play Championship in Arizona, Stenson taped a segment for the European Tour in which he interviewed himself, with help from some clever splicing. After asking one question, Stenson the interviewer is seen yawning during the answer.

And when one reporter mentioned he had not been getting good results lately, Stenson smiled.

“I’m starting to like you more,” he said. “You ask nice questions. Not getting good results? You mean I’ve been playing (badly).”

That wasn’t the case on an overcast day at Congressional.

Except for his putter, Stenson might have posted an exceptional score. He had six putts inside 6 feet on his opening seven holes and missed them all – four for birdie, two for par. Instead of expecting his day to get worse, he waited for it to get better.

Eventually, it did.

He hit a 3-wood that went 325 yards on the tough 15th hole and hit pitching wedge to 3 feet. Then came a wedge to 7 feet for birdie on the par-5 16th, and a 5-wood that really ran through the fairway on the 17th, leaving him a baby 9-iron to 3 feet.

“After being 2 over on the front, I would have taken anything close to par,” Stenson said.

As down as he has been over the last year, Stenson is wise enough not to put too much stock into one round. He hit plenty of beautiful shots, and at least he wasn’t surprised to be hitting them. He has worked hard with swing coach Pete Cowen on simplifying his swing, and with mental coach Bob Rotella on keeping a clear mind.

He didn’t say which was more valuable at this stage.

“I’m still not overly confident, but I stayed patient. I hit a lot of beautiful shots out there,” Stenson said. “It’s only the first day and it’s a major championship, and there’s a lot of golf with some tough competitors. But it feels like a bit of a turnaround in terms of what I’m doing with the mental routines and my practice. I hope to build on this.”

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Bjorn adds four Ryder Cup veterans as vice captains

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 1:05 pm

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has added a quartet of vice captains for the biennial matches this fall in Paris.

Bjorn had already named Robert Karlsson as his first assistant, and he announced Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship that his group of advisors will also include major champions Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, and former world No. 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

Westwood is among Europe's most decorated Ryder Cup players, and his addition in this role signals he likely won't participate as a player in the matches for the first time since 1995. The Englishman has spoken openly about his desire to captain the European squad at Whistling Straits in 2020, but he's been quiet on the course in recent months, with a missed secondary cut at the Houston Open his only start since mid-February.

Harrington is seen as another possible captain for the 2020 matches, and he'll don an earpiece for the third straight Ryder Cup, having represented Europe as a player on six straight teams from 1999-2010.

Donald played on four Ryder Cup teams from 2004-12, with the Europeans winning each time he was on the roster. This will mark his first stint as a vice captain, as Donald announced last month that he would be sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a back injury.

At age 38, McDowell will be the youngest vice captain in the room, having holed the winning putt eight years ago at Celtic Manor. He won the French Open in both 2013 and 2014 at Le Golf National, site of this year's matches, and will also be making his debut as a vice captain.

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Bidder pays $50,000 to caddie for Woods

By Grill Room TeamMay 22, 2018, 12:28 pm

Someone has paid $50,000 to caddie for Tiger Woods at this year’s Hero World Challenge.

An unnamed bidder paid for the opportunity at an auction Saturday night at Tiger Jam, where monies are raised to support the Tiger Woods Foundation.

The Hero World Challenge will be contested Nov. 29-Dec. in Albany, Bahamas. The pro-am is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:28 am

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Arizona grabs last spot with eagle putt, playoff win

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 3:18 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – With her team freefalling in the standings, Arizona coach Laura Ianello was down to her last stroke.

The Wildcats began the final round of the NCAA Championship in third place, but they were 19 over par for the day, and outside the top-8 cut line, with only one player left on the course.

Bianca Pagdaganan had transferred from Gonzaga to compete for NCAA titles, and on the 17th hole Ianello told her that she needed to play “the best two holes of your life” to keep the dream alive.

She made par on 17, then hit a 185-yard 6-iron out of a divot to 30 feet. Not knowing where she stood on the final green, Pagdaganan felt an eerie calm over the ball. Sure enough, she buried the eagle putt, setting off a raucous celebration and sending the Wildcats into a play-five, count-four team playoff with Baylor at 33 over par.

Their match-play spot wasn’t yet secure, but Ianello still broke down in tears.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

“Bianca is such an inspiration for all of us,” she said. “She’s the kind of kid that you want to root for, to have good things happen to.”

Arizona prevailed on the second playoff hole. As the 8 seed, the Wildcats will play top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals Tuesday at Karsten Creek.

Though the finish had plenty of drama, no teams played their way into the coveted top 8 on the final day of stroke-play qualifying.

Baylor came closest. The Bears barely advanced past regionals after a mysterious stomach virus affected several players and coaches. They competed in the final round with just four healthy players.

On Monday, Gurleen Kaur put Baylor in position to advance, shooting 68, but the Bears lost by three strokes on the second extra hole.

Arkansas finished one shot shy of the team playoff. The second-ranked Razorbacks, who entered NCAAs as one of the pre-tournament favorites, having won seven times, including their first SEC title, couldn’t overcome a 308-300 start and finished 10th. Player of the Year favorite Maria Fassi finished her week at 19 over par and counted only two rounds toward the team total.